Dear Military Wife Who Is Pregnant & Alone

pregnant woman staring out window
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Hey there. I bet you're wondering how this happened to you. Are you thinking that you didn't sign up to be a single parent, but now here you are, pregnant and alone while your husband is in some other part of the world? I know it's tough right now, but you will survive this and come out the other side stronger than you ever believed possible. I know, it doesn't seem like it right now. But I've been there.

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My husband wasn't supposed to deploy, but you know how it is in the military. Schedules change. Everything is written in pencil. We even had to move our wedding date three times to accommodate his ever-changing schedule. I laughed the first time I heard the saying, "If the navy wanted you to have a wife, they would've put one in your sea bag." I'd say it's funny because it's true, but it's not really funny at all.

He told me he wasn't going to have to deploy, and his commanding officer backed him up. At that point, we'd been through seven or eight deployments, each lasting three to six months, and he was getting near the end of his career. I felt like we'd paid our dues and this was the reward: He'd be home to see our baby born.

Wrong. 

It was the middle of August and I was due in December. "I have bad news," he said. "I have to go."

I felt like I was going to pass out. I spent the next few weeks in a daze, finishing up the nursery and getting things in order while secretly hoping something would happen that would keep him home. But October came, and he got on a plane and left. I was terrified. I'd gone through a lot to get this far, including a miscarriage the year before. Now I had to get through my last trimester alone while worrying about his safety overseas. I needed him, and he wasn't there.

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He was gone for eight months. He missed our wedding anniversary, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, and my birthday. He came home two days after my first Mother's Day. But -- and it's a big but -- he got to come home for the birth of our son. And when my scheduled induction turned into a C-section, we got lucky (ha!) and scored a few extra days together. I felt like I'd won the lottery, because so many military wives don't get even that much. But his commanding officer wouldn't let him stay for Christmas, so we celebrated on December 21 and he left on the 22nd. I think I cried until New Year's.

Your story may be different from mine; your branch of the military might have shorter or longer separations. But you have had to deal with the reality that you are pregnant and you are alone and he may or may not be home when the baby is born. No matter what your situation is, it's hard -- damn hard -- to be pregnant and alone.

It's OK to be sad, and it's OK to ask for help, whether it's from your family, friends, or your spouse's command. I learned that the best thing I could do was be as prepared as possible and take care of myself. I had a friend on call in the event I went into labor early and I hired a doula to be my birth coach in case my husband didn't make it home for the birth. I wish I'd prepared more for after the baby was born -- with freezer meals and a babysitter lined up for times when I needed a break -- and I wish I'd asked for more help than I did.

I didn't sign up to be a single parent, and neither did you, but it's part of the experience of being a military spouse to sometimes tap into our reserves. If you've been through separations before, then you have already learned to manage things on your own. You know about the lonely days, the nights when every bump in the dark sets your heart racing, taking up the chores and responsibilities he normally handles when he's home, the importance of communication for your mental health and your relationship.

More from CafeMom: Mom Has Perfect Response to Stranger Who Implied She Has Too Many Kids

Communication becomes even more important when you're pregnant. There will be times when you'll feel resentment: at his job, at the military in general, at the callous nature of scheduling, and, yes, at him. You will feel like he has abandoned you, even though you logically know that's not the case. You will feel like he doesn't know how hard it is on you -- and maybe he doesn't, but it's hard on him, too. The milestones that you will remember for the rest of your life are secondhand stories for him. He's missing out on the big stuff while you're going through the big stuff alone.

I won't lie: Those eight months my husband was deployed were the hardest, scariest time of our entire military marriage. There were days when all I wanted to do was scream, days when I didn't shower or get dressed or do more than hold and feed the baby. It is already so hard to be a new mom, and being a new mom whose spouse is in the military and away is even harder.

Your civilian friends will think it's impossible, but you know better. You will get through this. You will, I promise. You are not alone and you are not weak. You married into the military -- but you are a warrior in your own right. You have generations of military wives before you, believing in you and supporting you. You can do this.

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